Michelangelo’s Poem about the Sistine Chapel

  • Michelangelo’s Poem about the Sistine Chapel

“I’ve already grown a goiter from this torture,
hunched up here like a cat in Lombardy
(or anywhere else where the stagnant water’s poison).
My stomach’s squashed under my chin, my beard’s
pointing at heaven, my brain’s crushed in a casket,
my breast twists like a harpy’s. My brush,
above me all the time, dribbles paint
so my face makes a fine floor for droppings!”

Michelangelo via Gail Mazur

The Poetry Foundation

Weird Fun Fact – Michelangelo Didn’t Enjoy the Process

While it’s fair to say that making art for a living isn’t all that bad comparatively speaking, at the same time, like most things, even when you love parts of something there will also be parts you hate. I read somewhere that to be more mentally healthy you have to find room in love for hate.

For me making art is also often uncomfortable. Even when it’s not an issue of physical discomfort, like spearing myself with one of my barbed felting needles, I often go through the process of loving my idea for a work, getting started only to realized I’m unable to capture the amazing image I see in my head, being dissatisfied with my own inadequacy, despairing that my piece will ever any good at all, and then… slowly as I persevere, acceptance that what I have been able to create is decent in it’s own right and maybe in fact just a little bit marvelous.

This is the trajectory of most art making as far as I can tell. Some creators may find it to be rather different. I take heart that at least in some ways even Michelangelo struggled to love what he found himself doing.

The full version of his poem via Gail Mazur is available to read via the Poetry Foundation.
Photo by Calvin Craig on Unsplash

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